Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Luxury, new technologies, sustainability: Is the Apple Watch … – (Subscription)

Tuesday, 09/22/2015

Antoine Lorotte (in “Agefi Magazine”) *

Antoine Lorotte (CEO FiveCo)

While we were struggling to get the actual figures, IDC report published Aug. 28 announced that Apple had sold 3.6 million Apple Watch the second quarter. Unclear whether the expected success was the rendezvous, although it would seem that in China the Apple Watch Edition was “robbed” and that all versions of the “gold” at $ 18,000 were gone in less one hour. Everything has been said about this, but this innovation and the changes it introduces are a great case study to see what has changed in the relationship between luxury, new technologies and sustainability.

At first one has to do three very different elements, and sometimes opposed, but which nevertheless have always had a close relationship, as shown by the history of brands and technologies. The Apple brand has always included in this logic. Since its creation Apple wants to pull up the “new technologies”. Steve Jobs has always struggled to be considered as machinery as well as luxury items. By attacking the watch, it seems that the Californian giant has finally found a way to complete this goal.

But despite the efforts, we realize that even a subject requiring such as Apple Watch Gold Edition has not reached quite the prestige of a Rolex Oyster Perpetual or Hublot Big Bang. Not to mention a complication Patek Philippe. It there’s probably several reasons for this, of course Apple is a newborn on the watch market. But the reason that concerns us here and that seems fundamental is the role of technology in luxury.

What makes the Apple Watch Gold Edition is not spontaneously perceived as a luxury watch for fans of the genre, despite its high price and the choice of materials is the intuition obsolescence of the product. Indeed, the purchaser will not have the feeling of owning an object that crosses generations. He will never give it the famous slogan of Patek “You never own a Patek Philippe Actually, You Merely take care of it for the next generation.” Just put on the market, technology product by definition is already outdated. While the luxury product, he may board from one generation to another without suffering the effects of time. Yet there are exceptions. A Ferrari engine V 12 successful example this incredible sleight of passes: very pure technological object, he does not fear obsolescence. But this “right” is not given to all technological objects. Indeed, when it comes to “new technologies” we realize that things are complicated and must add “fireworks” and “marketing” to say “this is a luxury item that we will keep. ” The question that then arises is: “Is not this difficulty to achieve sustainability that prevents new technologies to spontaneously join the luxury world?” This natural demarcation seemed insurmountable because the clean technology c ‘ is to always surpass itself through innovation. Yet this does not mean that luxury goods can only be technological objects.

Luxury brands continue to innovate. Some even now staked everything on innovation. But we can add all the rubies and gold that you want to watch, from the time when we know that it is already exceeded by updating to which it can not escape, she immediately ceases be seen as a pure luxury. Because the main reason why it will be desired by the consumer will be much technological innovation.

The question brands and innovative today is “how to create a perfectly homogeneous object that is a good compromise between luxury and technology?” There is a good illustration of this problem through objects of the brand “Art of Secret”. In reviving the tradition of furniture secrets, she will seek inspiration in the history of the craft and techniques. Thus, the Duo desktop Expression appears at first like a beautiful design object made of precious wood and leather. The technology that allows it to be a secret cabinet is not an end in itself, it is just a means. Being totally invisible, it does not disturb the use. One understands that from the moment the technology is fully integrated in the object and it is not the ultimate goal, then we have partly answered the question: a luxury item may well be an object technology when its use becomes sustainable. The converse is less obvious: a technological object does not automatically become a luxury item, because it would have taken the luxury trappings.

* CEO FiveCo (Lausanne)

Text published in September Agefi Magazine


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